All that hard work is finally paying off. Silicon Valley is on fire. Tech companies and the people who run them are rolling in dough. Pay for the valley's...

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — All that hard work is finally paying off.

Silicon Valley is on fire. Tech companies and the people who run them are rolling in dough.

Pay for the valley’s highest-paid executives was up 57 percent in 2004, according to the San Jose Mercury News’ “What the Boss Makes” survey. Meantime, the valley’s 150 biggest companies were hauling in record profits, with earnings increasing 169 percent.

Happy days are here again.

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What do you mean, not for you?

Oh pish. Don’t be such a spoilsport.

You’re lost in the days when what was good for the company was good for you. The trickle-down days. The days long gone.

You need to be in with the in crowd for this economy to pay off.

If you’re at the top of the organizational chart, you may have already won.

Yahoo! Chief Executive Terry Semel made $231 million last year. His colleague and chief technical officer, Farzad Nazem, hauled in $63 million.

Oracle’s Larry Ellison padded his nest egg with $46 million, and John Chambers made $40 million.

Even the year’s big losers were big winners. Chief Executive Michael Lawrie gave Siebel Systems nearly a year of his life before the company sent him packing in April with a $4.5 million severance.

Former HPer Carly Fiorina got canned in February and received $21 million for her trouble.

Valley CEO: Nice work if you can get it. Or lose it.

Look, much of the 2004 executive riches came from stock-option windfalls. The brass moves the stock price up, they should get a little something for the effort.

What’s that? You’re the one doing the actual work, so no doubt your pay went up by 57 percent, too?

Well, no. In fact, Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network determined that average pay for valley workers declined by 1 percent while executive pay was skyrocketing.

In fact, the valley’s top 728 executives averaged nearly $2.9 million in pay in 2004, about 44 times the average pay of all valley workers.

But moaning about that sort of thing shows a lack of understanding. Moneymaking is a team effort, and you’re part of the team.

If you’re working, chances are you’re working harder than ever. Productivity is up in the valley and nationally. And it’s increased productivity that’s helped these companies make more money without hiring more people.

Bully for you.

And if you’re not working, well, you’re the most important of all.

You, my unemployed friend, are part of a cost-cutting army that is pushing corporate profits and executive compensation skyward. Why, without you and your needs, a company and the people running it can prosper even in challenging times.

You should be very proud.

Yet you wonder: What’s in it for me?

Silly you. It’s not about you.

The unemployed among you are asking whether this prosperity will bring you work. Let me put it this way: No.

Sure, jobs are being created. Just not here. Take Oracle (profit up 16.2 percent in fiscal 2004). It added 2,317 new jobs last year — all overseas.

In the United States, the company cut 1,309 jobs.

And you working people. You’re asking whether this prosperity will mean more money for you. How to put this? Not likely.

Average pay is down in the valley, remember? Same as it is for nonmanagerial workers nationwide. Economists say pay is falling because of global competition and weak unions. Rising health premiums are a problem, too.

What’s that? Your employer has solved the increased-premium problem? You pay them?

Now, now. Team effort, remember?

Look, this is the real world, with real challenges and real demands. One of those demands is that companies steadily increase profits.

Yes, it’s hard. But quit your complaining. Nobody ever said it was going to be easy.

Mike Cassidy is a columnist at the San Jose Mercury News.